After over a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are in rapid production and being distributed across the globe. As vaccines become more available, the question arises of whether they will be necessary to return to normal. Some services such as cruise lines have begun to require passengers to show proof of vaccination in order to board, with many restaurants and sporting events following suit by using vaccination cards as a type of passport. People who are vaccinated should have the privilege of traveling internationally because it ensures that they are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in other countries.
If people need vaccinations in order to travel, it will encourage many of those who opted out of vaccinating to change their minds. As more people are able to enjoy the benefits of being fully vaccinated, like traveling and going to sports events, others might be motivated to do the same. Several countries across the globe have already implemented vaccine passports, allowing citizens with vaccines to have access to more places. The United States has yet to announce a plan for vaccine passports, although individual companies have the option of using them.
According to Forbes, U.S. airlines have yet to officially announce whether they will require passengers to be vaccinated for international or domestic flight. However, they do not anticipate a rebound in international travel until most travelers are vaccinated. NPR reports that as of April 2021, 40% of Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving the majority of the U.S. population unprotected from the virus and capable of spreading it further. Requiring vaccinations to travel would likely encourage many of these people to reconsider as it becomes harder for people to go to sporting events or restaurants, or to travel.
According to the CDC, requiring vaccines would also limit the spread of COVID-19 between countries, as the chance of people carrying the virus elsewhere decreases dramatically. According to CNN, many countries, such as Belize, Poland and Iceland, have already begun implementing vaccination passports and loosening restrictions for those who have received their vaccine. With less spread between countries, the rate of infection will start to decrease.
In addition, people who have not been traveling due to the pandemic will be able to start traveling safely again. The CDC advises international travelers to quarantine for up to 14 days upon entry into another country. This quarantine period, though necessary, is a major inconvenience that could potentially be removed if travelers are vaccinated. According to USA Today, the tourism industry has lost over a trillion dollars in the last year due to COVID-19. Once people feel safe traveling, hotels and tourist destinations will finally start to see visitors again.
Although creating benefits for those who are vaccinated could seem unfair to those who cannot be vaccinated, there can be exceptions made. People should be required to have documentation backing up medical or religious excuses for not receiving the vaccine.
With the addition of vaccination passports, more people will get their COVID-19 vaccines. As traveling and going out in public becomes safer, we may have a chance to return to normalcy. In order to get there, people need to get vaccinated.
Medical professionals and state government officials have recently been debating on whether or not people should be required to be vaccinated and hold a vaccine passport either on a piece of paper saying the owner has been vaccinated or on a Smartphone. Although some have argued that requiring a vaccine passport for travel or entrance into a business is essential for the United States to return to normalcy, the implementation of a vaccine passport will cause more inequality for minorities and possible privacy invasions. For these reasons, vaccination passports should not be required.
According to Advisory Board, those who do not have direct access to the vaccine or a vaccine passport will be at a disadvantage if vaccine passports are required for travel or entrance to businesses. This is not advantageous, because some people may be far away from vaccination locations and have no transportation to get there. The lack of vaccines available can lead to fewer opportunities for normalcy.
Although some may want the vaccine, it may be inaccessible to them. Becker’s Hospital Review explained that in rural states like South Dakota, only 70% of the doses available have been administered to the people because of the lack of transportation to vaccination locations or the area in which they reside may not have accessible vaccination locations. This is unfair for those who are not able to get the vaccine, since they are not easily accessible.
If the vaccine passports are distributed electronically, those who do not have access to a Smartphone or the Internet will be left behind. The Advisory Board explained that states including New York have already tried to create a program in which the vaccination records are stored on a Smartphone app, which puts those who do not have access to technology at a disadvantage.
Boston University Today explained that those who have disabilities or allergies preventing them from getting the vaccine may be refused entry into private businesses. This furthers the discrimination against disadvantaged people, even though their vaccination status is an issue that they cannot control. Minorities are primarily those who were affected by the pandemic in the first place because of their lack of access to medical attention, and vaccination passports will continue to disproportionately hurt them.
In a few states, vaccination passports are only available in digital format. The Advisory Board said that there is risk for fraud within these distribution systems. Hackers could steal information from those who have vaccination passports and access the records of everyone’s vaccination status. According to The Guardian, those who do not have the vaccine might hack into these electronic systems to document that they have been vaccinated to gain privileges that those who are vaccinated have.
The Guardian explained that typically health information such as vaccination records is stored by the National Health Service and that these passports could mean that data is shared with outside companies. This could be considered an invasion of privacy for those whose records were exposed. The Guardian explained that if vaccination records are public and can be seen by outside businesses and other individuals, non-vaccinated people could face prejudice. Privacy could be risked for all individuals.
Although vaccination passports are oppressive and can invade privacy, they could allow the United States to move on from the pandemic. According to Fast Company, the tourism industry is losing enormous amounts of money, more than $1 trillion dollars since the pandemic has started. Vaccination passports could help to revive the industry and help the economy. With more people getting vaccinated and able to provide proof of vaccination while traveling, the tourism industry could see a resurgence in travelers and money. Guardian said that although this may benefit most people who are vaccinated, some minority individuals will still not be able to travel or see their family due to inaccessible vaccines. This disadvantage still gives non-vaccinated people less opportunities than vaccinated people, which is completely unfair.
Making vaccine passports or vaccinations against COVID required for people to be able to travel or be able to resume normal life discriminates against those who do not have access to vaccines or technology to prove that they have been vaccinated. Also, vaccination passport systems have risks of privacy breach, which can put individuals at risk. Although the tourism industry could benefit, privacy and opportunity are at risk for unvaccinated people.
Freshman Ben Ramsey
“Yes. I think that people with COVID-19 vaccinations should have more privileges than those who do not. They should have less mask requirements and be able to go to more places, which will encourage others to get vaccinated.”
Sophomore Megan Cooper
“No. In terms of traveling, people should not be required to be vaccinated. If you aren’t required to have a vaccination for a restaurant where the air isn’t circulating as much as an airplane, then you shouldn’t be required to have a vaccination card for an airplane.”
Junior Anna Hughes
“Yes. I think vaccines should be a requirement for either flying or getting into a country after landing to keep everyone safe.”
Senior Sam Adler
“Yes. I think that because the vaccine is effective in protecting people from COVID-19 spread, those who have been vaccinated should be exempt from some of the safeguards.”
Science teacher Scott Logsdon
“Yes. I think people who are vaccinated should have the privilege of traveling internationally, but anyone should be able to travel domestically. My only concern would be if someone were to lose that card and how it might then prevent them from having those privileges, and I’d hate to see that.”